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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China “looks to small nuclear reactors” – but it’s not really a very good look

This article is surely meant as a promotional boost for small nuclear reactors, SMRs.  BUT – it doesn’t quite read that way.  We learn that only the most enthusiastically pro-nuclear nations are interested in SMRs.

Another giveaway is that remarkable confession at the end  – that success of SMRs hinges on investors seeing new large-scale plants coming online and building on those successes.

Well, seeing that large nuclear reactors projects are now stalling, all over the place, with delays, safety problems, and ballooning costs –  those successes are looking very unlikely. Which leaves SMRs very much in the fantasy world – waiting for investors who never appear.

China looks to small nuclear reactorsnews.com.au, JUNE 27, 2017. David Stanway, Reuters China is betting on new, small-scale nuclear reactor designs that could be used in isolated regions, on ships and even aircraft as part of an ambitious plan to wrest control of the global nuclear market.

Within weeks, state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is set to launch a small modular reactor (SMR) dubbed the “Nimble Dragon” with a pilot plant on the island province of Hainan, according to company officials.

…..But these so-called “third-generation” reactors have been mired in financing problems and building delays, deterring all but the most enthusiastically pro-nuclear nations.

The challenges of financing and building large, expensive reactors contributed to the bankruptcy of Toshiba Inc’s nuclear unit, Westinghouse, and to the financial problems that forced France’s Areva to restructure.

SMRs have capacity of less than 300 megawatts (MW) – enough to power around 200,000 homes – compared to at least 1 gigawatt (GW) for standard reactors.

China aims to lift domestic nuclear capacity to 200 GW by 2030, up from 35 GW at the end of March, but its ambitions are global.

CNNC designed the Linglong, or “Nimble Dragon” to complement its larger Hualong or “China Dragon” reactor and has been in discussions with Pakistan, Iran, Britain, Indonesia, Mongolia, Brazil, Egypt and Canada as potential partners.

“The big reactor is the Hualong One, the small reactor is the Linglong One – many countries intend to co-operate with CNNC’s ‘two dragons going out to sea’,” Yu Peigen, vice-president of CNNC, told a briefing in May.

…….The success of new small-scale reactors hinges on investors seeing new large-scale plants coming online and building on those successes, said Christopher Levesque, Terrapower’s president.

“We’re not competing with those folks, we’re rooting for them,” he told an industry forum in Shanghai last month. http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/breaking-news/china-looks-to-small-nuclear-reactors/news-story/fa30465507d75bb2efef3bb1de827eca

June 28, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, technology | Leave a comment

Environment groups sound the alarm on Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to develop small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)

Green groups oppose TVA plan to test small nuclear reactors, Utility Dive Robert WaltonJune 27, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • Two environmental groups have petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to intervene in the agency’s review of Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to develop small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) at a site near Kingston, Tenn.
  • The federal utility has petitioned NRC for an early site permit (ESP) to determine whether the site is suitable for two or more SMRs, with a capacity of up to 800 MW.
  • TVA has been pushing for more than a year to site small reactors at the abandoned Clinch River nuclear development site.

Dive Insight:

Several conservation groups led by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are sounding the alarm over TVA’s plans to site small reactors at the Clinch River site, allowing the utility to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors.

The SMR concept proposes to utilize smaller reactors which can be developed offsite and then constructed quickly. Opponents fear their smaller size may lead to more lax restrictions, and say TVA should be looking to clean energy alternatives.

“The accurate description of what SMRs will actually do for TVA and its customers is squander more resources,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director for SACE. “We hope our intervention will prove successful and prevent TVA from making a bad decision that would cost customers and potentially put local communities and the environment at risk.”

SACE and the Tennessee Environmental Council petitioned NRC, contending the federal utility has not shown it has fully reviewed the risks, including the “safety and environmental risks of spent fuel pool fires, which could have far-reaching and catastrophic consequences.”

The groups say TVA wants to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors “from the standard ten miles to the site boundary or at most two miles, thereby exempting state and local governments from emergency planning requirements and reducing the level of preparedness for an accident at the reactors.”

“TVA expects the public near the Clinch River site to accept on faith that the fantasy nuclear reactors it wants to build there will be so safe that no evacuation plan is needed, even in the event of a core meltdown or a spent fuel pool fire,” Union of Concerned Scientists’ Edwin Lyman said in a statement.

TVA officials told the Times Free Press that they have not yet decided whether to move forward on the Clinch River SMR plan, but part of its mandate as a federal utility is to work with other agencies on energy development. TVA is working with the Department of Energy on the SMR pilot. ……http://www.utilitydive.com/news/green-groups-oppose-tva-plan-to-test-small-nuclear-reactors/445858/

June 28, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

British tax-payer funding the small nuclear reactor (SMR) gamble

UK funds off-site nuclear module construction project, Power Engineering, 06/27/2017, By Tildy Bayar Engineering firm Cammell Laird has won £200,000 ($255,000) in UK government funding to develop nuclear modules. The company said the funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would go toward a project that aims to work out the best way to build and test large modules at off-site locations before transporting them to nuclear sites for installation.

The Fit for Modules project is supported by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), Arup, Fraser Nash and Laing O’Rourke……

“The [UK] nuclear new build programme estimates a potential spend of up to £100bn over 30 years,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that as an industry we make the programme work from a cost and schedule perspective, stripping out waste and any unnecessary expense.”

He added that the project could “lay the foundation blocks for the UK to develop a complete industry specializing in off-site modular build”.

“If we can make a success of building modules for the domestic nuclear sector we can spin that expertise out to export markets as the UK looks to ramp up exports post-Brexit.”

In March the firm announced a partnership with the Nuclear AMRC to open a development centre for modular manufacturing methods for new-build reactors of all sizes, drawing on “a host of innovative technologies to significantly reduce costs and lead times for nuclear new build”.http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2017/06/uk-funds-off-site-nuclear-module-construction-project.html

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Opposition toTennessee Valley Authority’s plan for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Environmental groups challenge TVA nuclear reactor plan, Miami Herald, 25 June 17 The Associated Press  OAK RIDGE, TENN. 

Environmental groups are challenging the Tennessee Valley Authority’s proposal to use a Tennessee nuclear reactor design site abandoned in the 1970s to develop new small modular reactors.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press , the Southern Alliance for Clean Power, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League have challenged the Oak Ridge project’s site application. They say the reactors remain untested, unsafe and unneeded.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing the application to determine if the site works for two or more reactors generating up to 800 megawatts of nuclear power.

Sara Barczak, the high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, compared the project to the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project that was planned for the site in the 1970s, but was scrapped amid escalating prices for the technology.

“We are very concerned that history is once again repeating itself,” Barczak said. “And we are concerned that billions of dollars could be spent on a technology that is unproven, untested and significantly more expensive than other types of power technology that are available to TVA.”…….. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article158140124.html

June 26, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) a very poor bet for Oak Ridge

Environmental groups challenge TVA plans for small nuclear reactors in Oak Ridge, Times Free Press, June 25th, 2017, by Dave Flessner  The Tennessee Valley Authority wants to use the site of a nuclear reactor design abandoned in the 1970s to develop a new technology of small modular reactors.

But environmental critics of the Oak Ridge project say the new small modular reactors are still untested, unsafe and unneeded.

Sara Barczak, the high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, likened TVA’s proposal to locate the new small reactor designs in Oak Ridge to the Clinch River Breeder Reactor that was planned for the same site in the 1970s. Ultimately, then President Jimmy Carter killed the project because he feared the liquid metal fast breeder reactor might lead to more nuclear proliferation around the globe, and he complained about the escalating price for the innovative technologyy.

“The Clinch River site has a very long, troubled and expensive history because of a failed nuclear experiment, which was one of the most expensive plants for never generating any power,” Barczak said. “We are very concerned that history is once again repeating itself and we are concerned that billions of dollars could be spent on a technology that is unproven, untested and significantly more expensive than other types of power technology that are available to TVA.”

In 1971, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated the Clinch River project would cost about $400 million. But ultimately, the project was projected to cost $8 billion to complete, and it was finally scrapped in 1983. Barczak said she fears the proposed Small Modular Reactor concept, which has yet to get an approved design from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will prove too costly and not be adequately tested before one is built……..

The Southern Alliance for Clean Power and the Union of Concerned Scientists have joined the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League in petitioning the NRC to deny the early site permit for the small reactors in Oak Ridge. The environmental groups argue TVA has failed to justify its bid to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors from the standard 10-mile zone to the site boundary of about two miles.

“TVA expects the public near the Clinch River site to accept on faith that the fantasy nuclear reactors it wants to build there will be so safe that no evacuation plan is needed, even in the event of a core meltdown or a spent fuel pool fire,” Lyman said. “TVA has apparently failed to learn a major lesson of the Fukushima disaster: Public safety during a nuclear emergency depends critically on being prepared for the unthinkable.”

M.V. Ramana, a professor and chair of the Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said TVA’s site application for the small reactors is “more like an advertisement brochure than an examination of the environmental impacts of constructing these reactors.

“There is a long history of experimentation with small nuclear reactors, and the evidence so far suggests that small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produce,” Ramana said……..

The NRC is expected to consider TVA’s early site permit over the next couple of years, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2017/jun/25/environmental-groups-challenge-tvplans-small/434802/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Russia continuing in building “floating” nuclear power plant

Russia building first ‘floating’ nuclear power plant, Economic Times, BY IANS | MAY 30, 2017,NEW DELHI: Russia is in advanced stages of building the world’s first “floating” nuclear power plant (FNPP) for installation in remote areas and hopes FNPP technology will also interest South Asian countries like India.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

China installs giant containment dome on new nuclear reactor

China installs heavy containment dome on nuclear plant, Financial Express  China today successfully installed the heavy containment dome for its first domestically developed third-generation reactor design which may also be used at the Karachi nuclear plant where Beijing is building two 1100 mw reactors. By: PTI | Beijing: May 26, 2017  The hemispherical dome, weighing 340 tonnes and measuring 46.8 metres in diametre, was installed by crane on the No 5 unit of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in Fuqing City, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The installation marks the completion of construction work on the pilot project and the beginning of the assembly stage, said Yu Peigen, deputy general manager of CNNC at the site of installation.

The dome will be used for protection against nuclear accidents under extreme conditions, and both its design and installation are very demanding processes, the report said. The design may be replicated in Karachi plant in Pakistan where China is building two 1100 mw reactors at a cost of USD 6.5 billion. “The installation is much more difficult than that of traditional nuclear reactors because the whole weight of the dome and the ropes is more than 500 tonnes,” said Yang Jianguo, the lifting commander at the site. http://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/china-installs-heavy-containment-dome-on-nuclear-plant/687878/

May 27, 2017 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

A Pox on the Mox – Trump budget to stop Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

Platts 23rd May 2017  The Trump administration is proposing to end construction of a facility deigned to convert 34 mt of plutonium from surplus nuclear weapons to nuclear reactor fuel, concluding it would “be irresponsible to pursue this approach when a more cost-effective alternative exists.”

The administration, which Tuesday unveiled its proposed fiscal 2018 budget, said it will direct CB&I Areva MOX Services to develop a plan “as soon as practical,” to halt construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and securely shut the facility by late 2018.

The 2018 fiscal year starts October 1. Congress must authorize and appropriate fiscal 2018 spending and the president must sign the budget bill. The $340 million that Congress appropriated in an omnibus budget resolution for fiscal 2017 was earmarked primarily for the installation of ductwork and to seal openings in the facility used during
construction.

The fiscal 2018 proposal states appropriations for the MOX project after this fiscal year are “to be determined,” with no dollar amount specified. A justification for terminating the MOX project that the US Department of Energy provided Tuesday noted that the facility’s $4.8 billion cost projected in 2007, with a startup date of 2015, had ballooned
to $17.2 billion by 2016, with 2048 the earliest date, by which mix-oxide fuel could be produced. DOE now estimates the completion cost at up to $26 billion.

DOE noted that analysis it and “external independent analyses” have conducted “have consistently concluded that the MOX approach to plutonium disposition is significantly costlier and would require a much higher annual budget than an alternate disposition method, ‘Dilute and Dispose.'”  https://www.platts.com/latest-news

May 26, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, reprocessing, USA | 1 Comment

Australia to join in developing Generation IV nuclear reactors, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DISCUSSION??

Nuclear Australia

Submission to:  Inquiry: The Generation IV Nuclear Energy – Accession.by Noel Wauchope, 24 April 2017

First of all, I find it very strange that this agreement has been signed up to in advance, not by any elected representative of the Australian Parliament, but by Dr Adi Patterson CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, apparently pre-empting the results of this Inquiry!

I find it disturbing that this Inquiry is being held without any public information or discussion. Are we to assume that the decision to join this “Charter” is being taken without prior public knowledge?

It is a pretty momentous decision. According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework agreement “formally commits them (signatories) to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.”

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 currently prohibits the development of nuclear power in…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology | Leave a comment

Australia’s activists confront the very sly and secretive global nuclear lobby

Today, I am taking the unusual step of publishing an entire submission. That’s because it is so good.  The nuclear lobby pulled a swifty on Australians, by having government and media very quietly do what is sure to be a “rubber stamp” job on Australia joining up to the Framework Agreement for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems.

They very quietly allowed a very short time for submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry. The nuke lobby must have been in the know, as they put in 11, whereas there were only 3, (one mine) critical of the plan.

Fortunately the critical ones contain compelling information. So, here, in full, is the:

Submission from Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation .

Contacts:

• Jim Green (Friends of the Earth, Australia) jim.green@foe.org.au, 0417 318 368

• Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation) dave.sweeney@acf.org.au, 0408 317 812

Contents

1. Introduction and Response to National Interest Analysis

2. Generation IV Reactor Concepts ‒ Introduction

3. Decades Away

4. Purported Benefits

5. French Government’s IRSN Report

6. US Government Accountability Office Report

7. The Slow Death of Fast Reactors

8. Integral Fast Reactors

9. Thorium 10. Small Modular Reactors 11. Fusion Scientist Debunks Fusion

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND RESPONSE TO NATIONAL INTEREST ANALYSIS Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation welcome the opportunity to make a submission to this inquiry and would welcome the opportunity to appear before a hearing of the Committee.

The Committee will likely receive submissions promoting the construction of Generation IV reactors in Australia and it is therefore worth noting comments by the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in its May 2016 Final Report: “[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.”1

Here we provide brief responses to a number of comments in the National Interest Analysis (NIA).2

The NIA asserts that participation in the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) will further Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives. No evidence is supplied to justify the tenuous assertion. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further non-proliferation objectives, e.g. a ban on reprocessing Australian Obligated Nuclear Materials (AONM); a reversal of the decision to permit uranium sales to countries that have not signed or ratified the NPT; or refusing uranium sales to countries that refuse to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There is much else that Australia could do ‒ but is not doing ‒ that would demonstrably further safety objectives, e.g. revisiting the decision to sell uranium to Ukraine in light of the ongoing conflict in that country, refusing to supply uranium to nuclear weapon states that are not fulfilling their NPT obligations, insisting that uranium customer countries establish a strong, independent regulatory regime (as opposed to the inadequate regulation in a number of customer countries, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others).

Nuclear non-proliferation would also be far better realised by active Australian engagement in the current UN process around the development of a nuclear weapons ban treaty. Instead Australia has spurned this pivotally important initiative and is refusing to participate. If Australia is serious about its international standing, our representatives would be at the table in New York.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF will help Australia maintain its permanent position on the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors. ANSTO routinely makes such arguments ‒ in support of the construction of the OPAL reactor, in support of the development of nuclear power in Australia, and now in support of Australian participation in GIF. Australia has held a permanent position on the IAEA’s Board of Governors for decades and there is no reason to believe that participation or non-participation in GIF will change that situation.

The NIA asserts that accession to the Agreement and participation in GIF will have important economic benefits. No evidence is supplied to justify that tenuous assertion. There are no demonstrated economic benefits from participation in GIF ‒ however there are clear costs.

The NIA states that the “costs of participation in the System Arrangements will be borne by ANSTO from existing funds.” ANSTO should be required to provide a detailed account of past expenditure relating to this Agreement and anticipated future expenditure.

The NIA states that ongoing participation in GIF “will improve the Australian Government’s awareness and understanding of nuclear energy developments throughout the region and around the world, and contribute to the ability of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to continue to provide timely and comprehensive advice on nuclear issues.” Those arguments are tenuous, especially given that little about GIF is secret.

The NIA states that “Generation IV designs will use fuel more efficiently, reduce waste production, be economically competitive, and meet stringent standards of safety and proliferation resistance.” Those false claims are rebuked in later sections of this submission.

The NIA states that the success of Australia’s bid for membership of GIF was based in part on ANSTO’s “world-class capabilities and expertise” in the “development of nuclear safety cases.” ANSTO should be asked to justify that assertion. ANSTO could also be asked whether, based on its “world-class” expertise in nuclear safety, whether it considers it is appropriate for Australia to sell uranium to countries with demonstrably inadequate nuclear regulatory regimes, e.g. China, India, Russia, Ukraine and others.

The NIA asserts that “a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway or under consideration by a number of countries, including several in the Asia Pacific region.” In fact:

  • Globally, nuclear power has been stagnant for the past 20 years.
  • For the foreseeable future, there is zero likelihood of a “significant” nuclear expansion of nuclear power and there will be an overall decline unless growth in China matches the decline elsewhere. Declines can be predicted with great confidence in North America, across all EU countries combined, in Japan, and in numerous other countries and regions ‒ and a very large majority of the world’s countries (about five out of six) are nuclear-free and plan to stay that way.
  • No country in the Asia Pacific or South East Asia is seriously planning to introduce nuclear power. The only country that was seriously planning to introduce nuclear power in the region ‒ Vietnam ‒ abandoned those plans last year.

The NIA states that Australia’s participation in GIF falls within the existing functions of ANSTO under Section 5 of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties should assess whether Australia’s participation in GIF is consistent with legislation banning nuclear power in Australia (the EPBC and ARPANS Acts). 2.

2. GENERATION IV REACTOR CONCEPTS ‒ INTRODUCTION Continue reading

May 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, technology | 1 Comment

Tax-payer money urged for funding Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

However, nuclear critics point out that the small modular reactors remain unproven. Because none has been built, questions remain about whether they would be safer or more economical than full-size reactors


Newhouse asks Trump for small modular reactor money,
Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY acary@tricityherald.com, 6 May 17 Federal money to establish the United States as a leader in small modular nuclear reactors would pay off with economic and security benefits, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., has told President Donald Trump.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Even the fake charity Weinberg Next Nuclear recognises the link between Small Modular Nuclear Reactors and Weapons

Breaking the cycle of indecision: nuclear report by the House of Lords, The Weinberg Foundation,  May 3rd, 2017,  Suzanna Hinson

This week the House of Lord’s Science and Technology Committee published its report “ Nuclear research and technology: Breaking the cycle of indecision”. Weinberg Next Nuclear welcomes the report and agrees with many of its conclusions.

Nuclear has undoubted potential in the UK, but indecision for many years, through successive governments, has impaired progress. Continual delays have damaged both short and long term opportunities, as well as tarnishing the reputation for nuclear in the UK and limiting investor confidence.

Instead, the report argues that the Government “must act now to provide underpinning strategic support to the nuclear industry”. This action can and should be chosen strategically, and the Government can decide to either be a designer, manufacturer and operator of nuclear power itself, or be a destination to operate nuclear reactors designed and potentially manufactured overseas…….

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are one of the areas that have particular potential, with the report recognising they are likely to be “globally important for the future of nuclear energy”. The UK’s experience in this sector, through defence application expertise, gives it the potential to be a world leader……

Weinberg Next Nuclear hope the Government heed this report, and its recommendations. Following the General Election in June, nuclear power policy should come off of hold and onto fast track.  http://www.the-
weinberg-foundation.org/2017/05/03/breaking-the-cycle-of-indecision-nuclear-report-by-the-house-of-lords/

May 5, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

New Nuclear Projects Bankrupted Westinghouse – how it happened

How two cutting edge U.S. nuclear projects bankrupted Westinghouse, Reuters,  By Tom Hals and Emily Flitter | WILMINGTON, DEL./NEW YORK, 2 May 17 

In 2012, construction of a Georgia nuclear power plant stalled for eight months as engineers waited for the right signatures and paperwork needed to ship a section of the plant from a factory hundreds of miles away.

The delay, which a nuclear specialist monitoring the construction said was longer than the time required to make the section, was emblematic of the problems that plagued Westinghouse Electric Co as it tried an ambitious new approach to building nuclear power plants.

The approach – building pre-fabricated sections of the plants before sending them to the construction sites for assembly – was supposed to revolutionize the industry by making it cheaper and safer to build nuclear plants.

But Westinghouse miscalculated the time it would take, and the possible pitfalls involved, in rolling out its innovative AP1000 nuclear plants, according to a close examination by Reuters of the projects.

Those problems have led to an estimated $13 billion in cost overruns and left in doubt the future of the two plants, the one in Georgia and another in South Carolina.

Overwhelmed by the costs of construction, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29, while its corporate parent, Japan’s Toshiba Corp, is close to financial ruin [L3N1HI4SD]. It has said that controls at Westinghouse were “insufficient.”

The miscalculations underscore the difficulties facing a global industry that aims to build about 160 reactors and is expected to generate around $740 billion in sales of equipment in services in the coming decade, according to nuclear industry trade groups.

The sector’s problems extend well beyond Westinghouse. France’s Areva is being restructured, in part due to delays and huge cost overruns at a nuclear plant the company is building in Finland………

the source of the biggest delays can be traced to the AP1000’s innovative design and the challenges created by the untested approach to manufacturing and building reactors, according to more than a dozen interviews with former and current Westinghouse employees, nuclear experts and regulators.

Unlike previous nuclear reactors, the AP1000 would be built from prefabricated parts; specialized workers at a factory would churn out sections of the reactor that would be shipped to the construction site for assembly. Westinghouse said in marketing materials this method would standardize nuclear plant construction..…..

By 2016 Westinghouse began to grasp the scope of its dilemma, according to a document filed in its bankruptcy: Finishing the two projects would require Westinghouse to spend billions of dollars on labor, abandoning them would mean billions in penalties.

Westinghouse determined it could not afford either option. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-toshiba-accounting-westinghouse-nucle-idUSKBN17Y0CQ

May 3, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, USA | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Lobby bewails Britain’s lack of progress on Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs)

UK nuclear’s future in government hands, say reports, World Nuclear News, 2 May 17Two UK parliamentary committees have published separate reports – one related to research and development, the other concerning Brexit – that both call on the government to take action to ensure the future competitiveness of the country’s nuclear industry.

According to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, “We have reached a critical moment for the future of the United Kingdom as a serious nuclear nation.” It continues, “The undoubted potential of the civil nuclear sector has been blighted by the indecision of successive governments.”…..

SMR competition

The government’s failure to make a decision on its strategy for small modular reactors (SMRs) “is a prime example of its inaction in the civil nuclear arena”, the report says. “Not keeping to the stated timetable for the SMR competition has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained.”

Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) chief executive Tom Greatrex said the industry shares the committee’s “frustration” with the SMR competition. “With a potential global market for SMRs valued at £250-£400 billion ($323-$517 billion), the government must provide clarity as soon as possible after the general election if the energy, industrial and export opportunities of a UK SMR are to be realised.”

Tom Mundy, NuScale Power’s chief commercial officer and managing director for the company in the UK and Europe, also said a “clear direction” on SMRs from the government is needed. “We therefore welcome the committee’s call for the government’s SMR strategy to be published, setting out what the next steps will be to make SMRs a reality for the UK.”

Committee chairman, John Roundell Palmer, said: “We also found that the amount of UK funding for nuclear research, development and innovation is much lower than public funding levels in other leading nuclear nations, including the US, France and Japan. If the government’s aim is for the UK to be active across the main areas of nuclear R&D it needs to make significant investments in new technologies or we risk falling behind the rest of the world.”

Brexit

The committee also said the nuclear industry faces risks if the UK’s membership of European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) expires at the end of the two-year negotiating period without a replacement. It warned, “The UK risks losing its lead in fusion research as well as losing access to the markets and skills it needs to construct new nuclear power plants and existing power plants could be unable to acquire fuel.”…….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-UK-nuclear-industrys-future-in-government-hands-say-reports-0205174.html

May 3, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) just not happening in Britain

Alarm sounded over delays to develop UK mini nuclear reactors Lords scold government for lack of progress on small modular reactors plan, warning UK nuclear sector will suffer if firms walk away, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 2 May 17, The government’s failure to deliver on a multimillion-pound competition to develop mini atomic power stations has hurt the nuclear sector and risks international companies walking away from the UK, a Lords committee has warned.

In 2015 the then chancellor George Osborne promised £250m over five years for a nuclear research and development programme, an undisclosed sum of which was for a competition to pave the way for small modular reactors.

These reactors are much smaller than conventional nuclear plants with a capacity of less than 300MW – or a 10th of what Hinkley Point C should provide.

But the government has failed to even publish results of the first phase of the competition, expected last autumn, which the Lords science and technology committee said was “particularly alarming”.

“This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained,” they said in a report on Tuesday.

The peers urged ministers to publish their plans for small modular reactors (SMRs) without delay, and scolded the government for not showing any urgency to make a decision…….

Newcastle-based Penultimate Power UK, which hopes to capitalise on the market, told the committee that a lack of clarity from government had paralysed development of nuclear power generation technology…….

Government officials said earlier this year that one of the attractions of mini nuclear power stations was they fitted with the industrial strategy launched by Theresa May. But Tom Wintle, deputy director at the business department, said they had to provide affordable power.

“SMRs will need to deliver energy cost-competitively if they are to play a part in the UK’s future energy mix. As well as securing low-carbon energy, government is also committed to keeping down the cost of that energy for consumers, so there is a key challenge there for the nuclear industry as a whole and for SMRs,” he told an industry conference. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/02/alarm-sounded-over-delays-to-develop-uk-mini-nuclear-reactors

May 3, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment